Stephen Zepke is an independent researcher based in Vienna. He is the author of Sublime Art; Towards an Aesthetics of the Future (2016 forthcoming, EUP) and Art as Abstract Machine, Ontology and Aesthetics in Deleuze and Guattari (2005, Routledge). He is the co-editor of Art History After Deleuze and Guattari (2016 forthcoming, Leuven with Sjoerd van Tuinen) and of Deleuze and Contemporary Art (2010, EUP with Simon O’Sullivan) and Deleuze, Guattari and the Production of the New (2008, Continuum with Simon O’Sullivan).
Abstract: “Too Many People Mistake a Photograph for a Work of Art” – How Contemporary is Deleuze and Guattari’s view of Art?
Deleuze and Guattari’s rejection of Conceptual art is well known, and sits awkwardly with the current hegemony of ‘post-conceptual’ artistic practices. Equally awkward is Deleuze’s ontological and political dislike of photography, which produces a ‘snapshot’ or representation of becoming, placing cliched images directly into our brains, controlling our actions and reactions by denying us the power to think creatively. In Cinema 2 Deleuze will extend this argument to the new ‘electronic image’, which like Conceptual art turns the plane of composition into a ‘flatbed’ plane or ‘screen’ that simply formats information, and with it our interfaced brains. This is not the only place we find Deleuze skeptical regarding the digital technology emerging at the time. Today, conceptual practice, photography and digital technologies are all simply taken for granted by contemporary art, which is also happy to use “D&G” as well. But doesn’t Deleuze and Guattari’s thought require a more critical application? Doesn’t it demand a minor war-machine? What would this be in the case of contemporary artistic practice? Amongst various possibilities this paper will explore the sublime ramifications of a Deleuzean image of ‘thought’ as an alternative to art’s conceptual legacy.